You’ve probably heard that calcium is important for bone health, but did you know that it is also the most abundant mineral in the body? Along with bone health, calcium also plays a role in blood vessel and musculoskeletal health, mediating appropriate constriction and relaxation. The mineral is used for many physiological processes in the body, so if you are not consuming enough in your diet, the body will actually break down your bones in order to access the calcium stored there, leading to bone disease over time! Getting adequate amounts in our diet is critical for a healthy skeleton, healthy circulation, hormone production, and more!
The most well-known source of calcium is milk and dairy products, but what about other food sources? It turns out that there are many good plant sources of calcium that you can also use to boost your dietary intake. Here are a few of the best calcium-rich foods you should be putting on your dining table!
Green veggies. You know that green vegetables are nutritional powerhouses full of beneficial vitamins, so here is another reason to make sure that you have a bit of green on your plate. Green vegetables are some of the best food sources of dietary calcium, with collard greens leading the pack at approximately 266 mg per 1 cup cooked serving. Other awesome calcium-rich green veggies include okra, spinach, turnip greens, beet greens, dandelion greens, and mustard greens. If it has the word green in the name, it probably has good calcium content!
Fortified beverages. Over 70% of adults worldwide have lactose intolerance and difficulty digesting dairy products. The good news is there are more milk alternatives than ever, and a lot of these alternatives have added calcium! The amount varies from beverage type and brand, so check the label but most milk alternatives have 300-500 mg of calcium per 8 oz serving. Some milk alternatives to try include almond, coconut, hemp, rice, flax, and soy. Calcium-fortified orange juice is another great option with 200-260 mg per 6 oz serving.
Beans. Not only are beans good dietary sources of fiber, beans also offer us an abundance of calcium. Most beans have calcium, but soybeans and black-eyed peas are super-stars with amounts at 261 mg and 211 mg per 1 cup serving, respectively. Other beans with good calcium content include navy, cannellini, fava, black, garbanzo, refried and lentils. Firm Tofu with calcium added and tempeh are also wonderful sources and vegetarian-friendly.
Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are surging in popularity, and for good reason! Nuts and seeds are great sources of fiber, protein, healthy fats and minerals. For the best calcium, sesame seeds and almonds have the highest amounts. Sesame seeds clock in at an incredible 351 mg per ¼ cup serving and almonds are holding their own at 94 mg per ¼ cup serving. Other nuts and seeds to try are chia seeds, brazil nuts, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts and flax seeds.